This school year started with not only Shaw students eager to learn, but Shaw teachers too! Alongside my colleagues, I participated in two professional development opportunities in October. Professional development is about becoming the best-equipped teacher I can be as well as sharing what I know with other educators.
Ms. Peralta and I attended the Women in Stem Conference in Orlando, Florida hosted by the National Educator Program. The conference focused on how to promote student achievement, mastery of STEM content, and getting under-represented populations interested in STEM.
Brenda Skoczelas, a physics professor at Lake Sumter State College in Florida, talked about closing the gender gap in STEM and what educators can do to help. She talked about exposing students at an earlier age to STEM, making students aware of the different STEM careers available to them, and making sure students have female STEM mentors.
During the conference Ms. Peralta and I participated in various workshops and STEM building challenges. We learned about coding, the value of play, and even participated in a forensic science experiment about the Wicked Witch of the West! Attending this conference helped me remember that it’s our responsibility as teachers to give girls a positive early experience. We need to let girls explore and have fun, and the library is the perfect place to do that!
Alongside Holmes Innovation School librarian Paula Pickett, I was a presenter for STEAM Up Your Library! at the MassCUE Fall Conference. Paula and I believe that structured makerspace activities combined with well-selected literature increase awareness of STEAM careers in elementary students. We demonstrated how to combine literacy and STEAM-based activities in the library to expose students to career opportunities within STEAM fields. Some of our project examples included strawberry science, school yard gardening, making fossils, 3D technology, coding, and making clothes for dolls.
There is always more to learn. Life-long learning keeps me motivated, and I’m hoping that my students will be inspired to do the same.
This was the second year in a row I was lucky enough to present at the MassCUE Annual Technology Conference, held at Gillette Stadium.
Alongside Paula Pickett (Library Media Specialist at the Holmes Innovation School) I was able to speak about how having a makerspace has added an entirely new dimension of literacy to the Shaw library. From storytelling to game design, students can make truly meaningful connections to stories. They can explore the possibilities and try at coding a story, an animation, or game. This helps to ensure high levels of learning and meaningful student engagement. Paula and I spoke to attendees about the learning opportunities that emerge when bringing student imagination to life. We showed how making ties in perfectly with what we want our students to be able to accomplish. We displayed real project examples, showing attendees resources they can use in their own space. Maker spaces are a chance for educators to take stories and bring them to life. In our library, students can use hands-on materials to take control over their own learning and become an active part of the learning process when reading stories. Check out our presentation slides here!
The presentation was well received and I am so thankful I was able to share some of the incredible making Shaw students are doing!
This week marked the first time this year students were able to check out library books. For some, this was their first time EVER being able to borrow a book of their own! Every student received their own shelf marker and library card, and it was quite a momentous occasion. I loved being able to watch the students peruse the shelves for a book they were interested in purely for entertainment. I have found that when kids get to choose their own reading, they read more! I had so many students express their joy at being able to read their library books at home, on the bus, and during free time in their classrooms.
Thursday I was lucky enough to present at the MassCUE Annual Technology Conference, held at Gillette Stadium. I was able to meet with educators from across New England to talk about new and exciting ways to enhance teaching and learning.
I spoke on a panel titled "Social-Emotional Learning in the School Library: Serving the Invisibly Injured". Along with other librarians, I was able to share my experiences working in a school library and how schools can implement social-emotional strategies. Books can teach empathy, self-awareness, responsibility, and so much more. I was even able to mention our library pet and how he has been a calming presence in the library!
I think this week we all were reminded of the pleasures of reading!
"You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book." -Dr. Seuss
Mrs. Keohane is the School Librarian at the P.A. Shaw. She loves hockey, going to the beach, and reading (obviously!)